Opioid Abuse and Misuse: What Clinicians and Patients Can Do

An article published online in Forbes magazine offers a summary of the opioid prescribing landscape that clinicians may find useful to pass on to their patients. Authored by Robert Pearl, MD, CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, it provides some background on the history of opioids for chronic pain, and although pointed to fellow clinicians, is easy to understand and may be useful in the patient/physician dialogue.

Dr Pearl outlines a five point process by which prescribing clinicians can better serve the long-term interests of their patients with respect to opioids. The points include:

  • Weigh the risks and benefits of prescribing these powerful medications as part of a holistic treatment plan.
  • Ensure opioids are prescribed only for patients with conditions shown to respond well to them – and in the appropriate dosages.
  • Use the lowest dose possible to achieve the desired clinical effect and have a plan for tapering or discontinuing the medication when symptoms are controlled.
  • Monitor patients for signs of side effects and for abuse, misuse, dependency and diversion.
  • Ensure those patients who do start opioid therapy are aware of the risks inherent in long-term use and understand the plan to stop them.

The complete article may be read here.

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